Do Online Reviews Affect Customer Decisions?
Customer A has just recently unboxed, setup, and used a new awesome kitchen blender. It makes purees and smoothies and can also be used in milling grains. When the experience of the blending the smoothies/milling grains is complete, Customer A goes to the online retailer where they purchased the product to write a choice review.
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
Customer B, surfing the same online retailer and similar product types begins pouring through reviews in hopes of making an informed decision. One that affords the customer with info that wasn’t available in the generic product description. Customer B is looking for a review.
Whether your product is a high-powered blender, a 4K LED TV or a heat resistant spatula, at some point your product and sales will have to contend with online reviews. The reviews, whether positive or negative, will leave a lasting impression with potential buyers. Buyers that, for all intents and purposes are relying on WOM (Word of Mouth) to assess the miracles associated with an online retailer’s product.
Here’s the kicker. The sound, trusted, expert advice is coming from complete strangers. People who have used the blender\coffee maker\wonder wrench and have graciously shared their experience.
In 2013 alone, a survey conducted by Dimensional Research concluded that 90% of customer decisions were influenced by online reviews. Of that number 90% where influenced by positive reviews while 86% were influenced by negative reviews.
According to TestimonyMonkey.com and Yahoo Small business, a whopping 90% of customers trust reviews from people they know. Still, 70% trust reviews from strangers. Also, it has been determined that customers are making faster decisions. This means that they aren’t pouring through countless pages of reviews before making a decision. This means that the buy-no buy decision will be made on a small subset of user experience stories from complete strangers. Strangers that customers confide in with the same level of trust as their social network.
Surveys of this nature suggest that online product and service reviews are the next layer of social networking. In the past 15 years, purchase decisions have quickly progressed from Word of Mouth within your own personal circle of friends, to social networking advice via Facebook or Twitter, to online reviews. The whole process is inclusive that customers can “like” reviews so that friends can be educated about what someone in Utah though of the blender you’re considering purchasing. In fact, Facebook was the leading source of positive reviews. Negative reviews were typically left online at the retailer site as 58% of users who had a negative experience or experienced frustration where more likely to leave a review.
In conclusion, retailers, whether they are selling a product or service must learn to adjust to the fluid nature of the world of online reviews. They must respond quickly, and friendly, to any negative or indifferent reviews and ensure that the product, service, and or overall customer experience is top notch every time out. After all, with 70% of customers trusting reviews and making a quick decisions, they may not get even a first chance to make a first impression. There may already be 40 or so first impressions for the buyer to read.